9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Higher Education II Building I, 2E8

Higher Education Success and Failure in Portugal: The Confirmation of School Trajectories and of the Privileged Few

In this paper we present the results of an ongoing research project concerning higher education success and failure in Portugal. Based on a sample of students from three major higher education institutions, University of Coimbra, Technical University of Lisbon and ISCTE, we propose a model of prediction of success and failure using a multinomial logistic regression.
The success and failure model is based on two dependent variables: repetition and grades obtained. For both variables some predictors are common: the pair institution/course; grades obtained in high school and higher education access grades. The differences arise in the role of family educational capital and working experience for repetition and having a scholarship for the grades obtained.
Contrary to the results published in most studies in the field, gender and class origin don?t play a role in success and failure in higher education in Portugal. As highly unequal and selective, with access by numerus clausus, the Portuguese higher education system homogenizes its students, structuring inequalities on success and failure on the pre-university trajectories and the need to work in order to meet economic expenses. The economic factor is the only extraneous predictor of higher education success and failure in Portugal, in a self-sustained and self-reproductive system, impermeable to major structural changes on the Portuguese society. The morphological expansion of the Portuguese higher education system was based widely on the recruitment of middle and higher classes? students and on the few from lower middle and working class academically adapted to the demands of the educational system.
The paper concludes with some reflexions on the importance of attending to the institutional and course effects on success and failure and the promotion of proactive monitoring procedures, self and external evaluation of pedagogical practices and the central role of scholarships and economic support to mitigate inequalities and promote academic persistence.